Commentary, News

Federal Court of Appeals: No absolute right to carry concealed weapons; NC lawmaker proposes amendment to guarantee right

The Second Amendment to the Constitution affords Americans no guaranteed right to carry concealed weapons. So ruled the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, yesterday in a lengthy and well-reasoned 7-4 opinion. Mark Joseph Stern of Slate magazine reports:

On Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the Constitution does not grant citizens the right to carry concealed firearms outside the home. The decision, Peruta v. San Diego, is likely to be the last word on this litigation: It was issued en banc, meaning the plaintiffs’ only remaining hope is a Hail Mary appeal to the Supreme Court, which makes a habit of avoiding gun cases these days. Even if the justices did take the case, it’s difficult to see how they could justify reversing Thursday’s ruling: The majority’s 41-page decision lays out a compelling, comprehensive analysis that that even fervid defenders of the right to bear arms should have trouble dismissing.

The 9th Circuit case centered on a challenge to California’s ‘good cause’ law. Under the statute, members of the public may not publicly carry a concealed firearm unless they show ‘good cause.’ County sheriffs are tasked with establishing policies to define ‘good cause,’ and the sheriffs of two counties require a particularized reason why the applicant needs to publicly carry a firearm for self-defense. The plaintiffs in this case don’t have a specific reason to fear for their safety in public; they just really want to carry their guns around. So they challenged this interpretation of the ‘good cause’ law in court, insisting that it violated their right to bear arms under the Second and Fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution.”

In rejecting the plaintiffs’ arguments, the court provided an exhaustive history of gun rights in the United States and relied heavily on the Supreme Court’s Heller decision from a few years ago in which the Court found a Second Amendment right in one’s own home. here’s Stern again:

“In the decades following the Civil War and the ratification of the 14th Amendment—which applied much of the Bill of Rights to the states—this consensus grew. A number of states explicitly granted legislatures the authority to outlaw concealed carry, which legislatures quickly did. Every state court that heard challenges to these bans ruled the same way, upholding the constitutionality of concealed carry prohibitions. In 1897, the Supreme Court of the United States even asserted that ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms is not infringed by laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons.’

Until quite recently, in other words, there was a near-universal consensus among courts and legislatures that America’s Constitution, historical practices, and legal traditions do not create a right to carry concealed arms in public. That is enough, under Heller and McDonald, to reject the Peruta plaintiffs’ argument. Gun rights advocates may press legislatures to enact their policy preferences into law, but they cannot conjure a constitutional right to concealed carry this late in the game. And the 9th Circuit’s ruling in Peruta should give pause to activists who think they can use the courts to vindicate a right that never existed in the first place.”

Meanwhile, on the same day of the Peruta ruling, North Carolina state representative Larry Pittman introduced a a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would guarantee all citizens the right to carry a concealed weapon even without a permit. Click here to read Pittman’s bill.

One Comment


  1. Lew Powell

    June 10, 2016 at 11:16 am

    No scarier words in a headline than “NC lawmaker proposes….”

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